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Day to Day Living in South Africa

South Africa

Day to Day Living in South Africa

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Day-to-day Living in South Africa

What is the television like?

South Africa was one of the last countries in Africa to have television. The first broadcast was in 1975, and the first national broadcast was in 1976. Government control of press and radio was the main reason for television's late appearance. Television is now broadcast in the 11 official languages as well as German, Hindi and Portuguese.

  • SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) is the country's semi-public broadcaster.
  • SABC 1 - the most watched channel. It broadcasts news, entertainments and sports, in a range of languages
  • SABC 2 - a lot of locally produced programmes. There is a range of languages and most of SABC's Afrikaans programming
  • SABC 3 - mostly in English with a lot of American and British programmes.
  • SABC Africa - a news and entertainment channel broadcast to the African continent
  • MNet - a subscription channel. Free to air between 5-7pm. A mix of programming
  • DSTV - a subscription channel, throughout Africa. More than 50 channels. Some channels cater to expatriates
  • - free-to-air. A mix of programming, mostly in English

And radio?

There are an estimated 10 million radio sets in South Africa - a great way to reach the masses.

Public Service radio - The public service broadcaster is SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation). It is owned by the government, but is independently funded. The various stations target different audiences:

  • 5FM - national youth music station
  • MetroFM - black urban youth
  • Channel Africa - broadcasting in many languages and throughout Africa
  • UkhoziFM - the isiZulu cultural service (6.38 million listeners per week)
  • Commercial Radio - The deregulation of broadcasting in the late 1990's meant that many non-state controlled stations could start up. Some of the large SABC regional stations were privatised
  • Community Radio - There are now over 100 community stations in many different languages and catering for different groups.

The Icasa regulates the industry and issues licences.

The newspapers?

South Africa has 20 daily newspapers and 13 weekly newspapers. 14.5 million South Africans buy urban daily newspapers and 5.5 million buy community newspapers. South Africa is rated above the UK in terms of the most 'free' press.

  • Main dailies - in terms of average daily readers (number of readers in brackets);
  • Daily Sun (2.29 million) - aimed at the Black working-class
  • Sowetan (1.54 million) - competition for the Daily Sun, it started out as a free weekly sheet in Soweto.
  • The Star (616 000) - Originally aimed at the White market, now 50% of readers are Black
  • Die Burger (562 000) - Afrikaans language paper, distributed in the Western Cape
  • Citizen (466 000) - Distributed mainly in Gauteng
  • Cape Argus (407 000) - An afternoon daily, aimed at middle to upper-class readers in Cape Town
  • Isolezwe (391 000) - An isiZulu newspaper
  • Bleed (364 000) - an Afrikaans language daily

Is the water safe to drink?

Tap water is safe to drink in most places, as it has been treated. However, in informal and shack settlements you might want to drink bottled water. In some places the water is rich in minerals and you might experience an upset stomach for a few days until you get used to it. In the Cape the water contains humic acid, which means it is a strange colour - but apparently it is harmless.

Will my UK appliances work in South Africa?

The electricity supply is 220/230 volts - except for Pretoria (230V) and Port Elizabeth (200/250V). Most plugs have 3 round pins, but some have two small pins, so you will need a few adaptors.

South Africa has also been having problems with their electricity supply in recent times. In January 2008 there were national rolling blackouts. At this time Eskom warned that regular blackouts will continue for five years or more until new power stations are built. They are also considering rationing for households.

What are the opening hours of shops and businesses?

Business hours are usually between 8am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Bank hours are 8.30am - 3.30pm Monday to Friday, and 8.30am-11am on Saturday. Shops are usually open until 6pm, sometimes later depending on the area. Most major shopping centres and malls are open on the weekend, as are tourist areas. But in smaller towns and rural areas most things will be closed on a Sunday.

How do I get around?

You're most likely to fly into Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban airports. There are shuttle buses from the airports into the cities, or taxis if you prefer, however the airports suggest using official airport taxis or shuttles. There is also a service between Durban airport and Pietermaritzburg. There are free shuttles between the international and domestic terminals in Johannesburg if you need to catch a domestic flight. In Cape Town you can walk between the two terminals. All of the airports are slightly out of the city centres.

Trains in South Africa go from one end of the country to the other -with over 22 000 kilometres of rail lines. The Government has started a project to improve rail safety, but also to revive railways as a viable public transport option. The Blue Train is a famous luxury train, and there are also Shosholoza Meyl trains which transport 4 million people a year between major cities. Trains also link up to other countries, such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland. In the pipeline, is the Gautrain - a project which will connect Johannesburg, the airport, and Pretoria.

Planes are a better bet if you are travelling a major distance. Other major airports in South Africa include; Port Elizabeth, East London, George, Kimberley, Upington, Bloemfontein, and Pilansberry. There are 145 airports throughout the country with paved runways, and there are many aerodromes. The airlines which fly domestically in South Africa are; South African Airlines, South African Express, Airlink,, 1time, Mango and British Airways.

Buses are an option if you don't want to drive the long distances between some of the towns. Bus lines are; Intercape, Greyhound, Translux, SA Roadlink. For more luxury there is also Compassline.

Cars are another option, especially if you plan on spending an extended period of time in the country. There are thousands of kilometres of road in South Africa. The speed limits are; 50/60 km/hour in towns, 100 km/hour outside of towns, and 120 km/hour on national highways.

If you decide to buy a car, fully comprehensive insurance could be a good idea; insurance isn't compulsory in South Africa, therefore about 70% of drivers are uninsured, and repairs are costly.

Another option if you are not in South Africa permanently is a buy-back scheme. This is where the seller guarantees to buy the car back at the end of your stay.

How do I get to South Africa?

The plane trip usually takes about 12 hours from the UK to Johannesburg.

How do I move myself and my belongings to South Africa?

There are several companies which specialise in moving belongings from the UK to South Africa, from a few t-boxes to a household.






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